Legislative Changes Extend Rights of Prisoners Regarding Freedom of Religion
KYIV – Within the next few days the changes to the Criminal Executive Code of Ukraine will come into effect, which provide rights for convicted persons in prisons. Among them are those which are directly related to the activity of religious organizations and the right for convicted persons to the freedom of religion. The corresponding law, which the parliament accepted on January 21, 2010, was recently signed by the president of Ukraine, reports the Institute of Religious Freedom.
These questions were addressed in the Law of Ukraine “About making alterations to the Criminal Executive Code of Ukraine for providing rights for convicted persons in prisons” №1828-VI from 21.01.2010.
The law complements article 7 of the Code with a fifth part, which forbids the discrimination of the prisoner “based on race, color of skin, political, religious, and other beliefs, gender, ethnic and social origin, status, place of residence, linguistic or other characteristics.”
The new edition of part one of article 25 of the Criminal Executive Code of Ukraine: “Associations of citizens, religious, and charitable organizations, and individuals, in the order set by this Code and the legislation of Ukraine, can give help to the organs and institutions of prisons for correcting the imprisoned and conducting social-educational work.”
However, the previous edition of these statutes had a wider content that gave the possibility to the indicated subjects to “take part in the correction and re-socialization of the condemned and in the conduction of social-educational work with them, to give help to the organs and prisons.”
Legislative changes also set that “the administration of a community must not express its attitude toward a certain religion or confession.” This it is mentioned in the addition to the third part of article 128 of the Code, which regulates the conduction of Divine services and religious ceremonies in prison communities.
We will recall that these and other modifications were addressed during the International Conference “The Legal Dimension of Prison Ministry,” which in June 2009 took place in Kyiv by the initiative of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in cooperation with the State Department on Punishment Implementation, the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care (ICCPPC), and the Christian Interdenominational Mission of Prison Service of Ukraine. The purpose of the event was to analyze the state of the legislation of European countries for securing the humanization of the state’s penitentiary policy in Ukraine.